June 21-28, 2001 CityPaper

See IT! Catch the RAT!
arts picks|theater

by David Warner

Last week’s preview of the June theater boomlet (and Theater Communication Group/ TCG’s national conference at the Annenberg) failed to include two important events.

First, "The Best of IT." Opening for a four-day run June 21 at the Brick Playhouse, this program features highlights from the Brick’s Independent Theater (IT) series of new plays in development. The roster includes: Alex Wilkie’s "Commitment," a marriage comedy directed by Mark Cofta; Carolyn West’s eerie "Premonition," directed by Jeff Jerome; Michael Phelan’s "Almost Crooks," a bank robbery farce directed by Barrymore-winning actor Ian Merrill-Peakes; Nick Wardigo’s "The Tribe of Ishmael," about a man haunted by his memories of war, directed by Corinna Burns; and "School for Fathers," a Molière-esque farce by Matt Feely, directed by Domenick Scudera. Even though the Brick lets audiences gamble for their tickets (price is $12 minus the roll of a die), it’s a safe bet that with that much range and that much talent you’ll be entertained.

Secondly, we welcome the RAT Conference. A gathering of small experimental theater companies, RAT grew seven years ago from an article in Theater magazine urging theaters driven by the flow of ideas rather than the flow of cash to come together in a creative coalition. Since then, the RATS (an intentionally vague acronym that could mean anything from Regional Alternative Theater to Raggedy-Assed Theaters) have kept in touch through the Internet and through annual conferences like the one this weekend in Philly. Theater Double and Thieves Theater are among the local groups taking part, and the lineup of workshops is intriguing, from "Life Is Loud: Punk Is Personal" to a Rashomon-esque walking tour of Philly. Performances include Shepard’s Cowboy Mouth and an evening of three-minute plays, with most events taking place at the Shubin, the Brick, the Fleisher Art Memorial and Theatre Double. All raggedy-assed theater artists are welcome to participate.